Itaconate protects ferroptotic neurons by alkylating GPx4 post stroke

Cell Death Differ. 2024 May 8. doi: 10.1038/s41418-024-01303-8. Online ahead of print.


Neuronal ferroptosis plays a key role in neurologic deficits post intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). However, the endogenous regulation of rescuing ferroptotic neurons is largely unexplored. Here, we analyzed the integrated alteration of metabolomic landscape after ICH using LC-MS and MALDI-TOF/TOF MS, and demonstrated that aconitate decarboxylase 1 (Irg1) and its product itaconate, a derivative of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, were protectively upregulated. Deficiency of Irg1 or depletion of neuronal Irg1 in striatal neurons was shown to exaggerate neuronal loss and behavioral dysfunction in an ICH mouse model using transgenic mice. Administration of 4-Octyl itaconate (4-OI), a cell-permeable itaconate derivative, and neuronal Irg1 overexpression protected neurons in vivo. In addition, itaconate inhibited ferroptosis in cortical neurons derived from mouse and human induced pluripotent stem cells in vitro. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that itaconate alkylated glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPx4) on its cysteine 66 and the modification allosterically enhanced GPx4's enzymatic activity by using a bioorthogonal probe, itaconate-alkyne (ITalk), and a GPx4 activity assay using phosphatidylcholine hydroperoxide. Altogether, our research suggested that Irg1/itaconate-GPx4 axis may be a future therapeutic strategy for protecting neurons from ferroptosis post ICH.